FROM SEATTLE — We have a quick look at game-day in the Pac-12, as well as another visit with an opposing team's beat writer. Read on for the whole gauntlet.
In WSU news, Mike Leach finally announced his assistant coaching staff, which wound up being pretty anti-climactic. We have our story for you here. … Lorenzo Romar talked a bit about facing WSU in his conference call on Friday, and the particulars can be found in this blog post. … I would watch a docu-series about Leach, wouldn't you?. … John Blanchette previews the WSU women's team's matchup with Washington this weekend.
Around the Pac-12: C.J. Wilcox and Tony Wroten are nursing injuries for Washington, but should play on Sunday against the Cougars. On the gridiron, Steve Sarkisian said it was difficult to fire Nick Holt. … Oregon State faces Arizona State in Tempe today. Craig Robinson compares road games to vegetables. ASU took a chance on a shooter from Denmark. The Arizona Republic examines the Pac-12's struggles in this video. … A surging Utah team — by the Utes' standards, anyway — plays at Cal today. The teams' head coaches are old buddies. … Fortunately for OSU and Arizona, no suspensions came of Thursday's late-game mini-melee. Sean Miller somehow removed his tie during the fracas, which he explains in this story. The Wildcats host Oregon today. The Ducks also received some good football news, as running back Kenjon Barner decided to return to school. … Colorado looks for a road split at Stanford, the day's other game.
We also have a special guest on the blog today: Ryan Divish, the Huskies beat writer for the Tacoma News-Tribune (you can read his blog here). He was nice enough to stop by and grace us with his puka-shelled presence while answering a few questions — none of which involve a single reference to Crown Royal or Chone Figgins, his two favorite things.
1. The Huskies have three players ranked in the top 10 in the conference in scoring, yet they've already lost six games. What's happened when other teams have shut them down?
Divish: “It’s not a matter of other teams shutting them down as a matter of the Huskies shutting themselves down. The turnovers, the quick shots and total refusal to run a moment’s worth of offense have been Washington’s downfall in games. When Washington moves the ball and makes the extra pass, they score.
The three guys – Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross and CJ Wilcox – are an odd trio of guards that all do different things exceptionally well. And yet they don’t always compliment each other well. But they are good enough at what they do to average double figures.
There really hasn’t been one team that’s shut all three down at once. I don’t know if you can. You just kind of try and slow them all down and know that one of them will probably get 20.”
2. How much does this team miss Matthew Bryan-Amaning in the post? How have they attempted to compensate for his loss?
Divish: “Well, that’s a trick question. I don’t think the team misses MBA’s turnovers in the post where he would put the ball on the floor and a guard would simply poke it away. I don’t think the team laments the mountain of missed layups and five foot shots he seemed to accumulate.
But his presence and his ability to finish around the basket is something that is missed. The threat of scoring was at least there with him on the team. Now? There is no threat.
Darnell Gant is not a finisher. He isn’t a scorer – though sometimes he seems to think he is which isn’t good for the Huskies. Aziz N’Diaye is a huge body inside, but he often uses his face to stop incoming passes, which isn’t a good thing. He also doesn’t seem to have the polished post moves to do much with a pass if he does catch it. Really their best inside player is Desmond Simmons. He’s not a true post player by definition. But he bangs around inside and gets garbage points.
Washington has also started using Terrence Ross in the post, trying to take advantage of matchups with shorter guards.”
3. It looked like the Huskies really struggled against Seattle's full-court pressure on Tuesday. Were the Redhawks the first team to try that against UW, and do you think they're on to something?
Divish: “They were the first team to play that type of aggressive, relentless pressure against the Huskies. Other teams have pressed Washington, but not to that extent. The Huskies really took a step back in the face of the pressure in the second half of that game. Seattle U head coach Cameron Dollar recognized that this team isn’t a very physical team. Colorado muscled them around and Seattle tried to do the same thing.
I don’t know that a team can really play with the level of aggression and success that Seattle did, simply because it takes time to get good at it. Just pressing for the sake of pressing won’t cause Washington problems. But pressing with a purpose and with the right plan can cause problems.
Eventually though, with all of their ballhandlers, Washington will get some easy buckets. And I’m not sure any team wants to make it a full court game with the Huskies and their athletic guards.”
4. Which UW player do the Cougs need to be most wary of?
Divish: “I would say either Wilcox or Ross. We know what Wroten is going to do – drive to the basket, draw fouls and make plays. But Wilcox and Ross can shoot the 3-point shot so well. And when they get going, the Huskies are capable of going on a 12-2 run at any second. Wilcox has unlimited range and has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and go to the hoop if you run out to hard to defend the 3. Ross has been quiet this year. He plays within the framework offense. He won’t force things. But he can flat score. And he’s been pretty quiet offensively lately. You can take your chances with Wroten driving and possibly turning it over or missing his free throws. But if you let Wilcox or Ross get going from the outside with wide open looks, it will be a long night.”
5. Lorenzo Romar wouldn't wear that hideous purple blazer for two straight games, would he?
Divish: “This coming from a guy who dresses in a wardrobe that I would call a mixture of hipster/homeless/preppy? Probably those years of going to Queen Anne and spending 20 dollars on parking and 40 dollars on a lukewarm meal.
The purple blazer is a little garish, and does make him look a little like Barney or Grimace. But I think it’s stylish. I think he goes dark suit for the game. But it is WSU, so he may break it out.
Maybe he’s got a gold blazer.
We know this much. Regardless of what he wears, he will be better dressed than either you or I and anybody from ROOT sports.”
(You'll have to excuse Ryan's attitude. He's still bitter about MLB's ban on muscle shirts in the press box.)